David Moon
Anniversary Professor of History



BA (Newcastle), PhD (Birmingham), FRHS

David Moon is Anniversary Professor in History. He currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2015-17)

His main expertise is in Russian history. He currently works on Russian and transnational environmental history. His most recent book is: The Plough that Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s Grasslands, 1700-1914 (OUP, 2013).

Before moving to York in 2012, he held posts at universities in the north of England and west of Scotland, but began his career as a temporary lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin. His postgraduate studies included a year at Leningrad State University in the Soviet Union in 1985-6. He has held fellowships and visiting positions in the USA, Russia and Finland.




The main focus of David’s research has been the rural world of the Russian Empire from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. His initial work was on social history, but a decade and a half ago he moved into environmental history. In recent years, his work has become increasingly transnational and comparative.

His work on environmental history considers the interrelationship between the human and non-human worlds, and how people have understood this interrelationship, over time. As well as conventional historical research in archives and libraries, he takes part in field trips to explore the environments he is researching and to engage with scientists who study them.

He is lead investigator on a Leverhulme International Network: ‘Exploring Russia’s Environmental History and Natural Resources’, involving specialists from UK, US and Russian universities, which involves annual field trips to key locations in Russia and Ukraine.

In addition, he is exploring parallels and connections between Russia and Ukraine's steppes and America’s Great Plains. He currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2015-17) for a project entitled 'The Amerikan Steppes: Russian Influences on the Great Plains'.

His research on the American Great Plains builds on his most recent book: The Plough that Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s Grasslands, 1700-1914 (OUP, 2013). http://www.york.ac.uk/history/publications/theploughthatbrokethesteppes/  'The Plough that Broke the Steppes' was selected as one of ten history books of the year for 2013 by the Financial Times and was the winner of the Alexander Nove Prize in Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies awarded by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, 2013.

Read his blog about the book at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/04/environmental-history-russia-steppes/

He has also been involved in collaborative research projects on environmental history in Britain , leading to the publication of a book, co-edited with Peter Coates and Paul Warde: Local Places, Global Processes: Histories of Environmental Change in Britain and Beyond (Windgather, 2016).

His research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy, the Carnegie Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and the Santander Bank. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2008-9) and the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC (2007). He makes regular research trips to Russia, Finland, Ukraine and the USA.





David has experience of supervising a fairly broad range of topics in modern history and would particularly welcome enquiries from students wishing to conduct research in environmental history.




Contact details

Prof. David Moon
Vanbrugh College
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 3603, External (01904) 323603

External activities


Academic Societies

David is an active member and current or former office holder of:

The European Society for Environmental History  

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Editorial Boards

The Environment in History: International Perspectives, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford (founding, joint series editor)

Environment and History

BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies

Advisory Boards

Center for Environmental and Technological History, European University at St. Petersburg, Russia